5th July 2019 – Dried Fruit Prices Remain Steady as Expectations of Good Northern hemisphere Crops Continue

The continuing hot and sunny weather throughout the Mediterranean will help to bring confidence to an otherwise lacklustre market for dried vine fruits.

Greece is expecting a much larger crop of currants this year, although the season will begin in September, with a virtual nil carry-over. Prices of Greek currants have eased slightly as packers and farmers seek to clear any unsold stocks of 2018 crop fruit. As an indication good quality provincial ungraded fruit is being quoted around EUR2,900 (USD3,255) per tonne fob Piraeus for shipment up until end September.

It is still too early for most local packers to give any indication for the export price of new crop Greek currants, but these should surely reduce once the crop has been safely harvested. Expectations are that the price could reduce significantly once first shipments have been made and this will be welcome news for the UK dried fruit industry, which continue to be the main buyers for Greek currants.

The continuing volatility of the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar is one of the principal factors effecting Turkish dried vine and tree fruit prices. This is likely to continue for some time yet and will present local Turkish packers with a quandary as to when to cover their forward currency obligations once a sale has been completed. Prices of new crop Turkish sultanas have remained constant at around USD2,000/tonne fob for RTU (ready-to-use) No. 9 sultanas for September shipment, but as in the case of Greek currants, they may well reduce once the crop has been safely harvested and the available tonnage for export can be determined.

Prices of Turkish raisins usually depend on the quantity or the percentage of the crop that is actually dried as raisins. California and South Africa have both reduced their export prices for Thompson seedless raisins in the hope of increasing sales. This will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect for Turkish prices, so it seems unlikely that Turkish raisins will command a very high premium over the price of Turkish sultanas. This will be a disincentive for local farmers from drying their fruit as raisins, as the risk increases as the fruit takes longer to dry and can then be subject to rain or hail damage.

Total exports of Turkish sultanas and raisins to the UK have reached 61,182 tonnes up until June 29 2019, compared with 59,508 tonnes the previous year. This is slightly surprising as the total value has increased to USD120,823.430 compared with USD97,071.873, which is a massive increase of over 24% year-on-year.

In contrast, sales to Germany for the same period have fallen and this confirms the continuing importance of the UK for the Turkish dried fruit industry. Imports of Turkish vine fruits are at present duty free but would attract 2.4% import duty in the event of a ‘hard Brexit’ and the implementation of WTO rules. It is therefore very important that the present duty arrangements continue, if at all possible to prevent unnecessary price increases for the UK consumer.

Prices of both US and South African Thompson seedless raisins remain competitive with offers of US select Thompson seedless raisins now available below USD1.20 per lb c&f Felixstowe. This reduction in price has caused some difficulty for South African packers who have been forced to lower the prices of their choice Thompson seedless raisins to try to attract new sales. This may result in financial losses if fruit has already been contracted forward at higher levels earlier in the season. The good news for South Africa however is that available unsold stocks of South African golden raisins and Orange River sultanas are now very limited. South African currants are fully sold out for the year, following a much smaller crop.

A source in Malatya, Turkey, reports that the Malatya growing area is expected to produce over 50,000 tonnes of apricots this year and when combined with the other regions, this should make a total apricot crop of more than 140,000 tonnes.

Total sales in 2018 have reached 110,000 tonnes so with a carry-over of about 15,000 tonnes there will be more than sufficient fruit to meet any increase in demand for the coming year.

The largest part of this year’s crop of apricots is likely to be sizes 3 and 4 and although there will be an increase in speckled fruits, it is thought that the quality will be superior to the last few seasons and hopefully exports will increase accordingly.